Monday, July 20, 2015
Interim superintendent Norm Ridder: I start today; I'm working right now
"I start today," former Springfield Superintendent Norm Ridder said this morning during a news conference in the Memorial Administration Building. "I'm working right now."
Board President Jeff Koch said Ridder was hired for two years, with the second year as a board option. Ridder's name had been brought up often during the board's search for someone to replace "retired" Superintendent C. J. Huff. Ridder was highly recommended by those who were in charge of the search for a new superintendent for the Kansas City School District.
"Dr. Ridder's name came up a number of times."
After retiring from Springfield following the 2013-2014 school year, Ridder spent the past year as the interim superintendent in the Mehlville School District in St. Louis County.
Ridder made it clear that he was not here to be a caretaker or a bridge to the next top administrator. "The whole time I'm here," he said, "I'll die for this district."
Ridder is stepping into a situation in which more than 300 teachers have left the R-8 School District over the past three years, but he insisted there was no such thing as "bad morale."
"Teacher retention is critical." He said his experience showed him "there's no such thing as bad morale; it's a bad system."
Ridder said he would begin having meetings with individual board members, administrative staff, teachers, students, and community members and would formulate a plan to address the district's needs.